Gadea Sticking With Rays Starts With Confidence
Eighteen players were selected in the Major League Portion of the Rule 5 Draft at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. With the fourth pick in the draft the Tampa Bay Rays selected right handed pitcher Kevin Gadea from the Seattle Mariners. He is expected to compete for an open spot in the Rays ‘pen this spring.
Gadea, who just turned 22 on December 6, is a converted infielder signed by the Mariners out of Dennis Martinez‘s academy in Nicaragua in July 2012. He has never pitched above Class A but the Rays obviously feel he has the skills to make the leap to the big leagues.
“We saw him well throughout the season, he misses a lot of bats we think that he’s got a chance to help us in the bullpen.” Rays director of baseball development Peter Bendix said. “We’ll take him into spring training and kind of see what we have -he’s a young guy and there’s a lot of potential there.”
2016 & Repertoire:
He features a fastball that sits 94-96 mph range, a changeup that he drops in the mid-80’s, and a curveball that he spins up to the plate in the low 70’s. He spent the majority of the 2016 season with the Mariners Class A Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League appearing in 10 games (six starts) while posting a 3-0 mark with a 2.15 ERA (12-ER/50.1-IP). In addition, he struck out 72 batters (12.9 K/9) while walking just 11 (2 BB/9).
Since the Rays have to keep him on their 25-man roster or offer him back to the Mariners (after exposing him to waivers), he’s going to have to perform well in order to keep a valuable roster spot. What specifically are the keys to sticking?
“Probably strike throwing, confidence, probably has to believe in himself that he can get big league hitters out.” Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom said. “This guy has pitched 60 innings last year in the Midwest League, that’s a big jump and we’re not entirely sure of what to expect until we actually see him do it.”
It will be difficult for Gadea to stick with the big league club for the duration of the 2017 season. A good showing in spring training in terms of command of his arsenal will go a long way towards making the opening day roster. Although he never progressed past Class A baseball, I believe some of that had to do with the Seattle organization hoping to discourage other teams from selecting him.
Roster construction :
Roster construction will also play a role in Gadea’s longevity on the roster. Manager Kevin Cash has never been shy about wanting as many pitchers as possible on his roster. The Rays have never been shy about wanting to have versatile players on the bench. During longer stretches without a day off the Rays may elect to carry eight relievers. This would enable the team to continue to carry Gadea while sending down another reliever for the fourth bench player when needed.
If Gadea were to make the Rays opening day roster he would join Erasmo Ramirez as only the second pitcher in franchise history born in Nicaragua to appear in a game. He’d also be just the 11th Nicaraguan pitcher to appear in the big leagues. Only four position players born in Nicaragua have ever appeared in a big league game and none with the Rays.
More On Rule 5 Draft:
The pool of players teams had to select from are comprised of those college/junior college players drafted four years ago (2013) or high school/international players signed/drafted five years ago (2012).
By November 20th teams had to decide which of the aforementioned groups of players to protect by placing them on their 40-man rosters and which to leave exposed to the draft.
As long as a team had an open spot on their 40-man roster they were eligible to draft a player. Once the player is selected the team has to pay a fee of $100,000 fee to the team losing the player. The player has to remain on the team’s 25-man roster for the duration of the 2017 season or be offered back to the original club for $50,000.